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Statement by Eugene T. Rossides, AHI General Counsel, On Report By The National Commission On Terrorism
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: NICK LARIGAKIS
June 7, 2000 No. 31/2000 (202) 785-8430

Statement by Eugene T. Rossides, AHI General Counsel, On Report By The National Commission On Terrorism

"The report of the National Commission on Terrorism titled 'Countering The Threat Of International Terrorism' is a flawed document. It contains some serious technical flaws. Certain of its recommendations potentially encroach on the democratic freedoms of all Americans.

An example of a serious technical flaw is the Commission's recommendation that the President should require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, a member of the President's staff, 'to agree on all budget guidance to the agencies, including the response to initial budget submissions, and both officials should be involved in presenting agencies' counterterrorism budget appeals to the President.' (page 34) The recommendation is a highly dangerous intrusion on the authority of the Director of OMB and should be rejected out-of-hand.

Recommendations of this sort suggest that the Commission's true purpose is a bureaucratic one to extend power and budgets. Additional budgets are not needed, and any effort to increase them should be rejected. The agencies involved have enormous resources. The anti-terrorism effort is 'already a $10 billion annual enterprise.' (Washington Post, June 4, 2000, pg. A1, col.6)

There are a number of other shortcomings of the Commission's report which raise serious constitutional issues such as monitoring a million foreign students' freedom to advocate political positions and the issue of legitimate fund raising. Most unfortunate is the report's call for repeal of 150 years of law and legislation that prohibits the use of military forces in law enforcement.

The Commission's report fails to define and discuss the term 'terrorism' and refers to organizations as terrorist organizations which responsible reporters regularly refer to as rebel or guerrilla organizations fighting for liberty, freedom, the rule of law and human rights.

There are a number of recommendations that are sound. I concur with the recommendation for greater coordination in disseminating intelligence information to analysts in the involved agencies and to policymakers.

With regard to Greece, Secretary Madeleine Albright and Ambassador Nick Burns have publicly rejected the Commission's recommendation to use a 1996 law to consider designating Greece as a state 'not cooperating fully' with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. They stated there will be no sanctions against Greece and Ambassador Burns also said that the visa waiver program will not be affected.

The report's comment that Greece should be designated as a country that is 'not cooperating fully' is totally unjustified. While not wishing to downplay the threat in Greece (there is none in the U.S.) of the November 17 organization and the need to intensify efforts against it, the fact remains that an overwhelming majority of the 'terrorist' incidents cited in the report are largely acts of political vandalism such as setting fire to parked cars at night. They overlook the fact that the level of terrorist incidents in Greece is exceptionally low and that Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe.

Ambassador Burns stated on June 5, 2000 that the U.S. was cooperating effectively with Greece's Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoides and that the United States does not agree with the Commission's positions on Greece. He said, Greece is a friendly country, a NATO ally, and we are cooperating excellently.' The Commission's report ignores the substantial and significant ongoing cooperation between the U.S. and Greece on many issues of national importance, including terrorism. As such, the Commission's recommendations are self-defeating in that they undermine the spirit of cooperation that is indispensable to the successful fight against internal terrorism in Greece."

Eugene T. Rossides
AHI General Counsel
Former Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury for Enforcement, Trade Affairs and Operations, 1969-1973